Allocating Resources to Strategic Initiatives

This article is the sixth of an eight-part series to help you break through traditional growth barriers.  Any one of these eight lessons, applied with confidence and persistence, can make a difference.  Collectively, they can drive significant outcomes.   Are you ready to begin a journey of Breakthrough Growth?

In the last article, we talked about the timeline and how you will prioritize and schedule projects that will operationalize your strategy.  Let’s dig into the process for allocating resources to them.

Where will the resources come from?

Once the high priority projects have been identified and the resource impact analyzed, it is important to identify where the resource will come from.  Identifying resources needed without determing where they will come from sets an initiative up to fail.  Potential sources of resources include:

  • New funding sources
  • Existing cash flow
  • Profitable growth of sales
  • Re-allocation of existing resources

Most companies I work with don’t want to entertain more debt if they can help it.  Few companies have additonal cash sitting around not deployed.  The initiatves and projects are often required to be implemented before companies can generate additional profitable sales growth.  So, that leaves re-allocation of resources.

Who likes to give up resources?

This may be the single hardest action step.  Who likes to give up resources?  I have yet to observe someone in a budget meeting say, “Here, take my money.  I love the challenge of doing more with less.”.

For that reason, most new projects are underfunded and die slow deaths of starvation.  That is not to say that every new project requires tons of new money.  It simply means that to do the new things right you need to walk away from things you might be dong today, that frankly, aren’t pulling their weight.

What can we stop doing?

To find resources that can be re-allocated to the high priority initiatives, ask “What are we doing today that nobody would notice if we stopped?

Think about what the organization spends money or time on that isn’t contributing to growth; is done only because your competitor does it; is an investment in ego; your customer doesn’t ask for, etc.  If your organizatoin tries to be everything to everybody, the focus just created in the strategi development phase should help identify what to stop doing and free up resources.
Sometimes companies make products they don’t have the capability tor out of ego or competitive spirit.  Cut those.  If you have people that are nice but not effective, that is an underutilized resource and you need to think seriously about how to increase the productivity of that position.

The first ime you ask the question about what to stop doing, people will laugh.  Then they will laugh nervously.  When they figure out you are really serious and open to the hard truth and bad news of what isn’t working, they will start sharing real ideas with you.

Think outside the box

Stay with it.  This is not a one hour discussion.  These are the kinds of things you think about on the drive home, while reading a magazine article or shopping.  They hit you at odd times because you have unlocked your thinking and you can connect the dots between a solution you see which may not be related to your industry or business but might be able to be adapted to your situation.

Southwest Airlines started the trend of not serving food back in the 1970s.  At the time it seemed bold and risky.  Many thought they would never survive.  They were flying in the face of industry practice, which was white linen tablecloth meals, at least in first class.  Southwest Airlines knew that to be a low cost airline they would have to strip out costs.  They believed that food was a perk customers would do without.  They were right! Since then, other airlines have followed their lead.

Be willing to challenge the status quo  What do you do that is your version of serving food that people don’t need?

How do you even start?

To start capturing ideas, divide a page, a white board or a poster in four quadrants.  Write “start” in the top left, “increase” on the one to the right of it.  Then write “stop” below start and “decrease” under increase.  Now start filling them in.  At a glance, you can tell if you have many more things that you are starting than stopping.  It keeps you honest about the challenge you face in re-allocating.


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